Aldi and the virtues of ‘brutal efficiency’

In recent years, we’ve witnessed a food revolution of sorts, leading to expansive consumer choice and an increasing emphasis on healthy or specialty foods that are locally and ethically sourced. In turn, a flurry of grocery chains have capitalized on such trends, with some stuffing their aisles with countless brands as others focus on “socially conscious” goods at luxury prices. Continue Reading...

Why the ‘success sequence’ is not enough

We’ve seen a drastic shift in the social habits and behaviors of Americans, whether in work, education, or family life. Yet with an ever increasing range of “nontraditional” routes to success and stability, social scientists have begun to see how one particular pattern bears fruit. Continue Reading...

Advice to graduates: Reject the calls to ‘find yourself’ and ‘follow your passion’

Graduation season is upon us, and with it is sure to come a flurry of commencement addresses crammed with platitudes about self-actualization, self-indulgence, and self-fulfillment. Though accompanied by occasional urges to “change the world” and “make a difference,” all will still fit neatly within a much broader cultural aim: “finding ourselves,” “trusting ourselves,” and “being true to ourselves.” “It’s about living the life you want,” Oprah says, aptly capturing the spirit of the age, “because a great percentage of the population is living a life that their mother wanted, that their husband wanted, that they thought or heard they wanted…Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.” Meanwhile, the real and tangible needs of our social and economic contexts swirl around us—present and future, seen and unforeseen—each of them held captive to the whims of our “passions” and “the life we want.” Overwhelmed by the distraction, we look inward, neglecting the moral foundations and social bonds that are so critical for communities and institutions to flourish. Continue Reading...

The search for transcendence

Yesterday a short video, originally posted by Forbes a few months ago, popped up in my browser. Called “Finding Meaning Through Travel,” it discusses several people who have supposedly found their calling in a life of travel and exotic pursuits. Continue Reading...